George Skelton, The Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2019
Democrats dominate politics in California and Republicans are doomed for one simple, overriding reason: shifting demographics.
Demographics are an eye-glazer, but California’s historic shift has been a political game-changer. The state has turned from battleground purple to one-sided deep blue in 25 years.
It’s not solely — arguably not even mostly — because of the 1994 Republican-backed anti-illegal immigration initiative, Proposition 187.
The initiative would have denied most public services, including schooling, to people living here illegally. Voters approved it in a landslide. But federal judges tossed it out.
No question, the harsh campaign pitch for Proposition 187 angered and frightened millions of Latinos, turning them even more against the GOP. It also sparked a new generation of Latino state political leaders.
Today, six of eight statewide elected officials are people of color — three are Latino, two are Asian American and one is African American. All eight are Democrats. Republicans haven’t elected a statewide official since 2006. Democrats hold supermajorities in both legislative bodies and own California’s U.S. House delegation 46 to 7.
But all this probably would have happened even if Proposition 187 had never existed.
In 1990, Republicans made up 39% of California’s registered voters. Today they’re down to 23.6%. That’s third place behind independents, who since 1990 have soared from 9% to 26.7% Democrats have dropped slightly, from nearly 50% to 44%.
In 1990, 57% of California’s population was white. Latinos constituted about 26%, with Asians at 9% and African Americans at 7%. In 2020, the population is estimated to be 39.4% Latino, 38.2% white, 13% Asian and 5.7% black, according to the state Finance Department’s Demographic Research Unit. Projecting to 2040, the population pie is expected to be about 42% Latino, 35.6% white, 12.5% Asian and 5.9% black.
In Los Angeles County, a little over 26% of the population is white and that number is projected to dip to 24% by 2040. Latinos now are at nearly 50% and will rise to almost 53% in 2040.
The majority of Latino likely voters, 58%, are registered as Democrats, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. An additional 23% are independents. Only 15% are Republicans.
Among Asian likely voters, 43% are Democrats and 36% are independents. Republicans claim just 18%.
A solid 72% of black voters are Democrats.
White voters? They’re mixed, as they’ve always been: 40% Democrat, 35% Republican and 20% independent.
The caveat for Latinos is that they’ve never exerted their full strength on election day. Their turnouts have been subpar.
But last November — probably because Trump was their lightning rod — they showed up in better numbers. They cast 21% of the total votes, according to Paul Mitchell, who runs a political data firm. Still, that’s underperforming. They were 26% of registered voters.